Shiekh Al Ahmed is no stranger to the issuance of anti-women fatwas. He has made it his personal mission to be responsible for every single Saudi female. He first came on my radar when he went on TV asking that the Makkah Mosque surrounding the Ka’aba be torn down and rebuilt so that there would be complete segregation between the sexes when Muslims visit the mosque for any reason including the annual pilgrimage, Hajj. Another incident is when he took a group of muttawas to the Ministry of Education to ensure that their new policy of allowing boys to enroll in girls’ schools until third grade would be stopped.
Now Shiekh Al Ahmed has a new mission, and you got to admire him for the bold move at least. In direct opposition to the King’s new legislation that no fatwas be made public unless issued or at least pre-approved by members of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, Sheikh Al Ahmed issued two fatwas on TV. And of course he didn’t disappoint, they were about women. His new pet project is to sabotage HyperPanda Supermarket‘s initiative to employ women cashiers. So he said on a program in reply to a caller that first of all it is haram (Sharia prohibited) in Islam for women to work as cashiers in places where men can be customers and secondly he said that it is not only Jaiz (Sharia acceptable) to boycott the supermarket but also mustahib (Sharia advisable).
The project has started on an experimental basis in Jeddah where currently 16 women are cashiers. If found successful, it will be expanded to absorb 2500 women cashiers all across Saudi Arabia. The application conditions for women according to Arab News are that they be Saudi, above 28 years of age, have a financial need, be a widow or divorced and stick to a dress code.
Shiekh Al Ahmed is calling on all ultra-conservatives to boycott HyperPanda and informed the PVPV that it is their right to file a lawsuit against them. He is arrogantly confident in his followers and the power they have that he says let’s give them a five day warning before we start the boycott. He says that he had called an executive from HyperPanda and found him to be stubborn and insistent in proceeding with employing women. He claims that their insistence is a sign that it is most likely an American supported and plotted scheme to westernize the country. However, my favorite part is when he says that ultra-conservatives from neighboring countries, like Syria, Egypt and Yemen, call him up to show their support and advise him not to allow what happened to their countries happen to Saudi Arabia.
I keep telling people that the more Saudi Arabia opens up especially when it comes to women’s rights, the more Islamic fundamentalist groups worldwide will too. It will have a dominoes effect on their approach and lifestyle. Because so many of these fundamentalists look to Saudi Arabia as the prime example as to how life should be lived. That’s why I’m going to do my part by supporting HyperPanda’s initiative. Although I’m a Carrefour regular since they are literally five minutes away, I will go the extra distance to buy my groceries from HyperPanda. I hope that others will do the same.